Capitol Access

Weekdays at the bottom of the hour during Morning Edition

Reports on Louisiana politics, government and the people shaping state policy.

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Members of the House Health and Welfare Committee invoked their faith Wednesday, as they approved a bill to expand the wait time for abortions to 72 hours.

“I feel blessed to be here, so thanks for bringing the bill,” Bossier City representative Mike Johnson told the bill’s author, Frank Hoffman of West Monroe.

Representative Dodie Horton of Haughton quoted scripture.

“God creates life. He says He forms the baby in the womb and He knew our parts before they were formed, actually,” she said, paraphrasing Jeremiah 1:5.

Wallis Watkins

“Access to healthcare not only results in better individual outcomes.  It also helps to grow a productive workforce,” Governor John Bel Edwards told the Louisiana Health Summit, held Tuesday at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.

He told health care stakeholders in attendance that with the state budget crisis, accepting Medicaid expansion makes fiscal sense.

“This Medicaid expansion is more important today because of that shortfall and because of the challenges around our safety-net system, than it would have been otherwise.”

Media Commons

Louisiana’s incarceration rate is the highest in the world, and costs the state $600-million a year. So how do we change that?

“Nobody’s trying to get murderers and rapists and armed robbers out of jail,” Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson advises. “We’re talking about alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders.”

Yet Louisiana is one of only two states that allows criminal convictions by less than a unanimous jury. (The other is Oregon.)

Media Commons

Usually “We’re Number One” is something to brag about, but in this case, it’s not a stellar statistic.

“The United States leads the world in the number of people we incarcerate, and Louisiana leads the country. We are number one in the nation in the number of people we lock up,” Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson advised the legislature recently.

But what does that mean, in overall numbers?

Sue Lincoln

With nearly a third of the House members in their first term, Speaker Taylor Barras recently asked House Clerk Butch Speer, “Just review the rules on voting.”

Speer says the basic rules are simple.

“If you’re in the chamber, you are required to vote. If you are not in the chamber, you are not allowed to vote.”

The next rules follow from that, Speer explained.

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